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History VBA

RAF Voluntary Band Association

RAF Voluntary Bands are voluntary military, pipe or brass bands that provide music for ceremonial and social occasions within the Royal Air Force, as well as local and national charities. In contrast to the RAF's professional musical bands (the RAF Central Band, the RAF Regiment Band and the RAF College Band), the bands are formed of volunteer musicians from RAF stations, other services and members of the local community.

The primary role of RAF Voluntary Bands is to provide music for ceremonial and social occasions at RAF units. The Bands also perform at many functions in their local areas; many of the engagements the Bands undertake are in aid of local and national charities. Voluntary Bands encourage teamwork and esprit-de-corps, as well as raising the profile of the RAF in the local community. Voluntary Wind Bands have a firm tradition in the RAF going back beyond the formation of the Service, and provided the basis upon which such prestigious bands as the RAF Central Band were formed. RAF music, now internationally famous, developed from a wide range of semi-official corps of drums, brass bands, military bands and pipe bands.

Voluntary bands were founded at the formation of the RAF on 1 April 1918. Several can trace their roots to Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Flying Corps volunteer musicians. The bands are centrally administered through the RAF Voluntary Band Association which, co-ordinates policy and activities and represents its members on those occasions when they are called upon to participate in major public events. Each of the current eight voluntary bands in the RAF are located on a geographical basis at stations throughout the United Kingdom and Cyprus.